6-7-5 Sculpted tornadic supercell in the Badlands

June 9, 2005 by
Filed under: Summary 

SHORT VERSION: June 7 2005: Two sculpted supercells in Badlands National Park, one with small 6-10 minute tornado. Many CFDGers and other apparent chasers seen. Munched by bow+supercell merger in Murdo.


We began the day with a pheasant struck outside Pierre. Keith Brown filmed as I had to pry (!) loose the pheasant from within my grille, bloody gory piece by piece, using a geological chisel. I thought that last drumstick section would never come out.

[Argh…before the last 5 days I have never plastered an animal to the front of my car. Since, I’ve had to peel off a woodpecker, a mourning dove and a pheasant on separate days.]

The outflow boundary arching across SW SD looked like a good place to go, so that was our target. We were buoyed by Bobby’s call to inform us of an apparent mesolow and thickening towers on that boundary, over the southern Pine Ridge Reservation. By the time we reached Badlands NP, Two supercells were apparent under one shared anvil — a flared LP to our WSW and a distant, more robust storm to our SSW. We time-lapsed both for awhile just N of the park entrance, using the verdant green prairie and sculpted ash beds of the Badlands as foreground. Simply breathtaking…Elke an I got to leisurely observe two supercells at once across the Badlands — a chase dream coming true. It was great to share this experience with OFs Moore and Watts. And it got better.

After using our National Parks Pass to avoid paying their Tornado Intercept Fee, we wound S down the park road to a beautiful, somewhat sheltered overlook which was open to the SSW-SSE — a perfect place to shoot time lapse as the supercell’s base began to lower. Optimism grew and we headed down to Interior to get in position to observe a lowering, bowl shaped portion of the base on the N (nearest) side of the storm. The lowered area formed a conical tip in the middle, then a conical funnel, which extended about halfway down. I was able to get tripodded video of this as it fattened into a front-lit, baggy funnel, then wrapped NWward and Wward around the NW side of the storm. The funnel the became partially rain-wrapped but still quite visible as a persistent rope, extending to the ground.

Meanwhile this sculpted storm maintained a beautifully flared base with a Spearman-like appearance to the convective wall on the right (NW) side. And we were well able to watch the evolution of the tornado (singular, not plural, please note) from the N, our filming position being 2 miles E of Interior. We were fairly close to the Alnado and Christine Krause storm intercept tandem, with whom we shot time lapse 15-45 minutes earlier from a vantage up in the Badlands. Sorry they had to pay 11 bucks! But I bet it was worth it for them.

We followed the storm for awhile, a truly beautiful storm in a beautiful place. After some maneuvering we caught back up to it near Murdo as the storm got munched by a bow echo roaring up from the SW. We rode out the combined storm under a protected overhang of a Mudro diner, filming near hurricane force winds and hail in town. Then came the steak dinner in the diner to cap off a fine, fine day. This easily was the most enjoyable chase this year, despite the avian carnage.
Tomorrow is a likely down day to refresh and reinvigorate in the Black Hills, and to visit one of our favorite places, the buffalo-laden green carpets of Wind Cave NP.

It was great to see, meet or hear from the following CFDGers out there, all of whom I congratulate for pulling another needle from the haystack in the Pine Ridge Resveration today: Gene Moore, Mike Watts, Bobby Prentice, Scott FitzGerald, Alnado, OF Moller, Ed Calianese, bc, Charles (No Relation) Edwards, Dave Hoadley…I’m sure there were many others.

Since I have no slides of it (just digitals and video), maybe I can beg some pix of OF Moller, who got the tornado on *three* film cameras.


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